Striking a balance: Cultural conflicts or cultural adaptation

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This paper explores the cultural representations embedded in the EFL textbooks for Primary English language education in China. In particular, it examines how cultural globalisation and localisation are competing with each other as the educational policy in English attempts to strike a balance between the local culture and ‘western’ culture. Using discourse analysis as an analytical framework, this paper argues that culture as a social construct is constantly evolving and traditions are fused with new cultural values and worldviews brought about by globalisation. As such, the analysis of the textbooks illustrates that culture as a social phenomenon has changed over the decades and glocalisation is gaining new perspectives in English language education in China. Importantly, the analysis shows that new cultural elements have been established and cultural globalisation has taken place when local culture adapt ‘foreign’ cultures to suit local needs. Acknowledging that there are cultural conflicts and competing ideologies in the texts, the paper argues that these conflicts and contradictories can be used to develop students’ critical language awareness and foster their critical analytical abilities. Importantly, the analysis can facilitate the students’ English language learning by providing them with opportunities to read beyond texts per se to cultural politics and practices. Juxtaposing different cultural and ideological perspectives can help students understand that cultural values are socially and politically constructed when they are confronted with complex linguistic and cultural environments in reality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-92
Number of pages20
JournalThe European Journal of Applied Linguistics and TEFL
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • textbook analysis
  • cultural representation
  • glocalisation
  • globalisation


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